Enemy Territory

Author: Sharon E. McKay
Publisher: Annick Press

Trained to hate, two boys on either side of the Mideast conflict discover friendship instead.

Sam, an Israeli teen whose leg may have to be amputated, and Yusuf, a Palestinian teen who has lost his left eye, find themselves uneasy roommates in a Jerusalem hospital. One night, the boys decide to slip away while the nurses aren’t looking and go on an adventure to the Old City.

The escapade turns dangerous when they realize they’re hopelessly lost. As they navigate the dark city—one of them limping and the other half-blind—their suspicions of each other are diverted. They band together to ?nd their way home and to defend themselves against unfriendly locals, arrest by the military police, and an encounter with a deadly desert snake. The boys’ attempts to understand each other and the politics that divide them mirror the longstanding conflict in the Middle East.

This powerful story, touched with humor, demonstrates how individual friendships and experiences can triumph over enormous cultural and political differences and lead to understanding and compassion.


The Book of Life Podcast featuring interview with Sharon:




In a war you are taught that the enemy is the bad guy and you have to hate the people on the other side. But sometimes in a war there are no good and bad, death is part of it and the pain and suffering touches all the members in the conflict.

Enemy Territory is a beautiful story about fear, hate, hope and above all humanity. It helps us see how we create demons with the faces of our enemies forgetting that we have the same essence. We are all people who hurt, cry, laugh, dream and love.

Sam, an Israeli boy, and Yusuf, a Palestinian, meet in a hospital after both are injured in different accidents. At first their prejudices will keep them apart but once they start communicate they will discover a great friendship. When they set on an adventure through the Old city of Jerusalem, the paths will take them to unexpected places.

Sam and Yusuf will learn that despite all their differences they are equals in many ways. Between discussion and fights, stereotypes, misconceptions, myths and wrong ideas will be put over the table.

The descriptions are excellent as well as the dialogues. The action and movement are perfect so is easy to get into the story and feel in your own skin the feelings and motivations behind the characters’ actions. The author creates tridimensional characters, which are likeable and human. With flaws and all they become heroes in their own lives.

A great book that shows a current topic that touch us all no matter what part of the planet we live in. This is an ancient conflict with so many consequences and no solution at sight.

Overall, Enemy Territory is an excellent book. Ideal for all ages because is a good way to learn while enjoying a fantastic story.

— Ruth Benitez Blog Review

Telling the story with sensitivity and humour, McKay brings to life, through the young men, both the dangerous and precarious situation in Israel, and the value of friendship in the face of crisis and deep-seated cultural instability.

CM Reviews, January 11, 2013

McKay weaves a story of depth and understanding, a beautiful portrait of reluctant friendship, of overcoming profound prejudices, misconceptions, and deep-seeded anger, even hate.

Resource Links, December 2012

In this fast-paced narrative, Sam and Yusuf blur together at times—anger is a realistic, defining characteristic for both—but given the overarching theme, that confusion just may be the point … powerful.

— Kirkus Reviews, 08/22

Full of grit and bursts of well-placed humour, Enemy Territory is a characteristically bold, thought-provoking, important novel from an author and Canadian war artist unafraid to use controversial issues as a platform to educate and enlighten.

Canadian Children’s Book News, January 2013

McKay ably...illustrates the deep-seated hatred and misinformation each side has for the other...

VOYA, December 2012

Enemy Territory is an eclectic mixture of adventure, drama, and humor. Catering to a young adult audience, this book more than delivers on its goal to reveal how youth may perceive the Arab-Israeli conflict. It also reveals how resilience, forgiveness, and tolerance can triumph. While an element of predictability does exist, there is a heartwarming lesson for all ages here. I definitely encourage all adults (young and old alike) to pick up this book and sit back for an evening or two of educational enlightenment – you won’t be disappointed.

— Christa McGrath, Edwards Book Club